Sometimes trips don’t go as planned. Trains get canceled and delayed, weather fails to cooperate, and accidents necessitate surprise trips to the emergency room. Despite these extra little adventures, you can still enjoy a fun-filled, action-packed escape just about anywhere. Last weekend, we tested this theory on our getaway to Prague.
Joe’s parents are visiting us in Berlin, and we decided to embrace their partial Czech heritage with a trip to magical Prague. It’s just over four hours by train – much closer than Munich or other sites in southern Germany – and I’ve been before. How hard could it be?
Never challenge the travel gods with such thoughts.
Day 1: roll with the punches
After learning, at 7:30 am that morning, that our 9 am train was canceled, we scrambled to rebook our tickets. Then, after heading to the train station, we learned that our new train was an hour (in the end: almost two hours) late. And after dashing between platforms, barely boarding the correct train, and kicking people out of our reserved seats, we thought we were done.
Once we settled in with our canned sparkling rosé, beef jerky, and large, icing-drizzled cherry pastry, things started to go smoothly. We chatted with an interesting couple who travels the world following horse racing and felt fortunate that we weren’t in their shoes: their train into Berlin had been canceled the day before, causing them to miss a fancy dinner and spend hundreds of euros on a four-hour taxi ride. It’s all about perspective!
After arriving in Prague six hours after we’d planned, we were welcomed by blustery rainstorms and three canceled Uber rides. Pro tip #1: the most reliable form of transportation in Prague is the tram, not any four-wheeled vehicle. After a somewhat soggy and slightly too long walk, we arrived at our lovely apartment. Thankfully, our dinner reservations took us just around the corner to the busy and delicious Lemon Leaf Thai restaurant. One bottle of local red wine, four delicious dishes, and one violently spicy mouthful of Thai chili seeds later, we were relaxed and settled in. Pro tip #2: be very cautious when scooping up every last drop of your amazing Tom Yum. Those last drops might bring you to tears (and not in a good way).
Day 2: I would walk 10,000 miles (or just 10)
Saturday morning brought misty rain and dramatic clouds, but we were determined to make the most of one of our two full days in Prague. We hiked across the river to the very French and very crowded Café Savoy only to discover that they were booked until 3 pm (it was 10 in the morning).
Not to be befuddled by one packed bistro, we bravely marched down a side street to the nearby Café Lounge. One glance inside revealed full tables and multiple couples waiting to sit. I mean, what were we thinking – it was Saturday at brunch time! Pro tip #3: ALWAYS make reservations for any and every meal. Can’t hurt, definitely will help.
Becoming despondent, we wandered north toward the vague hope of a bagel or crêpe near our seemingly far away destination. As we waited for a light to change, a little yellow sign caught our eye: Burrito Loco was just down the street. And there wasn’t a soul inside. Recognizing it from the Prague Foodie Map (courtesy of A Taste of Prague food tours), we made a beeline for the counter. Four cheap and delicious breakfast burritos later, we were ready to truly embark on our adventure.
More on all that good stuff in the next post. 🙂
Day 3: expect the unexpected
We’d planned an early start to beat the crowds and pack as much into our second full day as possible. But every once in a while, the universe has other plans. Joe’s mom tripped and fell and landed on her hand and wrist. After looking at her oddly bent and already swelling appendage, I knew we needed to visit the emergency room.
But herein lay the problem. Most doctor’s offices and urgent care clinics are closed on Sundays in Prague. After a good thirty minutes of furious Googling, Joe finally found the one hospital that appeared to be open – it was a military hospital and several miles outside the city center, but we were going.
One bumpy cab ride later (damn those beautiful cobblestone streets!) we arrived, bright and early, at the large hospital complex. Enough of the staff spoke English that, after almost three hours, we had determined that Verlaine had broken her arm (the radius) and needed to have it set. The silver lining came in the form of the (extremely small) bill. Pro tip #4: don’t get seriously injured in most European countries on a Sunday. You’ll be hard-pressed to find help!
With her arm in a heavy cast and cloth sling, Verlaine was patched up and ready to go. What a trooper! She made it through a tram ride back to the apartment, a long, Italian lunch, a massive kolač hunt (Pro tip #5: Czech kolačes are very different than Texas kolaches! The Czech version is basically pie.), and dinner at hamburger mecca. Whew!
Day 4: sunshine and last-minute sights
Our last morning in Prague revolved around an early visit to the Charles Bridge. I refused to let us leave the city without adding our footsteps to this famous crossing, and it was well worth it.
Dozens of statues of saints and kings line the length of the bridge, and every visitor must touch the brass fittings on one of them for luck. Pro tip #5: relatively few tourists go to Charles Bridge early in the morning. If you want photos that aren’t mobbed with selfie-stick wielding groups, get there around 8 am.
An on-time train and smooth ride back to Berlin capped off a full and unforgettable whirlwind of a weekend.